Line Røddik talks to AS ahead of Atlético Madrid vs Barcelona
The leader of Barcelona's "international revolution" is 28-year-old Danish defender Line Roddik Hansen hoping they can "surprise" a few people on sunday against Atletico Madrid.
Line Røddik Hansen's football career has taken her from her native Denmark to Sweden, France and now Spain where she plays in the centre of defence for the league leaders - FC Barcelona.
Most comfortable when given the chance to play football from the centre of defence, Røddik believes Barcelona and their possession-based style is the ideal club for her and she explains to us the difficulties she has faced in learning the language, winning a player of the year award on an all boys team when she was 14 and what to expect from her side when they face second-placed Atlético Madrid at the Vicente Calderón at 12:00 (CET) on Sunday 11th December in what is a top of the table clash.
How has it been adapting to Barcelona, the football club, and living in a new country with a new language?
It has been real really good here. Everybody has is been really helpful and everybody wants the best for me here. At the beginning, the hard part is the language. A lot of the players speak Spanish and it’s in Spanish all the time. Of course, it would be good if I can be fluent in Spanish and understand everything. That’s always something when you go to a new place where they speak a language you don’t understand that’s always the most difficult thing.
After this I am going to my Spanish class because I want to learn as quickly as possible because I know it is important but other than that it has been really nice coming here and people have been really helpful both with the culture and the way of playing.
What has been the most difficult thing about learning the language for you?
It’s a completely different language from Danish and its different from English too with the grammar and things like that. I feel it’s a lot of fun because in both Danish and English, before the verb we say ‘he is’ or ‘she is’ or ‘they are’ but they don't do that when they are speaking Spanish. I don't say ‘Estoy bien’ (I am good), I say ‘Yo estoy bien’ (Me I am good). That's so normal for me to do so that’s a fun thing, it’s no problem and people understand and there is nothing wrong about it, but still, that’s one of the grammatical differences that I am so used to.
You have played in Denmark, Sweden, France and now Spain. What are the biggest differences in style of play between the four countries?
I think Denmark and Sweden are a lot similar in the way of playing. So when I moved to France in the beginning I could see there were some differences like there, it is more technical and it was very fast and I think it’s the same here in Spain. That was the big difference from Denmark to Sweden to France and then Spain. Here, I could see the difference, because in Sweden it is more physical and here it is more technical. And it’s not that it’s not technical and quick in Sweden and it’s not physical here but they are the stand-out differences.
You have referred to yourself as a ball-playing defender. Did that help in your decision to sign with FC Barcelona – a team known around the world for its possession-based style?
That's the thing. I play both center-half and as a full-back and the kind of team I like to play on is a team that likes to have the ball. They like to use the defenders as ball-holders and being a part of the attacking game too and they want to keep the ball and I think that’s one of my strengths. So, when I play at center back, I don’t want to play on a team where they defend deep and when they get the ball they just kick long for example. That’s not the kind of player I am, so knowing that that is the way Barcelona want to play, I think the central defensive position is perfect position for me here.
You have studied sports coaching. Do you want to continue in that field when you hang up your boots?
I have a Master’s degree in sports science and I have the coaching education also. I hope that one day I will be able to combine these two things. I am really interested in the science part and I would like to go for a PhD in that field one day, I think. I am really interested how to optimize performance when you are an athlete at a really high level - how to get even better. At the same time I think it is really interesting with the coaching and the practical side of the game so I have no idea but my dream is to combine those things and work with sport and maybe football... eventually.
There has been a surge in female coaching in some sports and in some countries. What country do you think has the most opportunities for women getting involved in sport?
I must say at the moment when I’m done playing football I’m pretty sure I want to go home to Denmark for a while now because I have been away for a very long time and I think from the time I retire, I want to go back home and that’s the first thing.
Female coaching is getting more and more normal in more countries and that is something I like to see. You see it both in Sweden and Denmark for example. In the national team, our assistant coach is a woman and I saw it in Stockholm in Sweden, [the coach] is a woman. It’s getting more and more normal and I like that; it’s growing more and more. I know that in the woman's world, they want more women coaches so I know there are a lot of possibilities there.
You are playing Atlético Madrid at the Vicente Calderón on Sunday. How does it feel to be preparing for a game at such a historic stadium in the capital of Spain?
I am excited because it’s a fantastic game right? These games are the most fun to play. You really know how important it is. Every game is important that’s for sure but with these you get a little bit of a feeling that it’s a little bigger. And then to be playing in a fantastic stadium; I’ve never been there. So for me it is going to be my first time there and that makes it more fun when you play in places like that.
We have spoken about Barcelona’s style of play. How do you see Atlético Madrid’s style and how do you plan on countering them?
I never played against Atlético Madrid so that’s difficult for me to say. I have talked a lot with my teammates and we have watched videos and I’ve talked to them about how they play so let’s see on Sunday if we can surprise you and how well we play. I think we will play our game. Barcelona want to play in a certain way and we don’t think that much about who we play against because we want to play our game and we will influence the games we play so I’m pretty sure we will show you that on Sunday.
You mentioned in a previous interview that you won a player of the year award on the boys’ team when you were 14. Did you know that you had something special and that you would one day turn professional at that point?
When I was younger, I played both football and handball and I think in the moment when I was young, I enjoyed that. I played both and I didn’t really know what I wanted the most but it was always a little special cause I was the only girl on the boys team and because of that you knew that you were a little special.
Then when I was 14 I got the chance to play on one of the underage national teams and so I went and I came up through the under-17 team and then the under-19 and between all that I stopped playing handball because there was no time for me to play and i needed to focus on football. Somehow, I made the choice between those two sports but yes, it was always a little buit special because I was the only girl on a boys team.
You have over 100 caps with the Danish national team. How nice would it be to win Euro 2017 given the heartbreak of not qualifying for the last World Cup?
I always say when we talk about national team; The Euros and the World Cups and those big competitions, they are what the national team is aiming for. Those big tournaments. Last time with the World Cup we didn’t qualify and that sucked so much. I was so angry and when the World Cup was on I wanted to be there so this time I’m really looking forward to it. We are doing well at the moment with the team and it feels good so it will be really nice if we can win that.
You obviously have a massive interest in tactics and coaching. You must have your own opinions on these things too. Do you say much in the dressing room and do you try to influence things on your team based on what you think and know?
I think that for me in the beginning the most important thing is to adapt to Barcelona style of playing and it has been important for me because we want to play in a certain way here and with certain tactics so that has been the most important thing for me in the beginning. Then afterwards, as I said, it is always important that we listen to each other and we can always learn from each other. But to start it was most important for me to learn the way of playing here at FC Barcelona and adapt to the team. Then, of course, I give whatever I can offer to the team too.